THE national badminton squad may be young and inexperienced, but they are here to stay.
Gone are the days when the BA of Malaysia (BAM) used to solely depend on players like Lee Chong Wei, Goh V Shem, Tan Wee Kiong, Tan Boon Heong and Koo Kien Keat for results.
Just last week, BAM announced young and fresh looking men and women’s squads for the Asia Team Championships in Manila on Feb 11-16.
The meet also serves as a qualifier for the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup in Aarhus, Denmark in May.
National men’s singles coach Misbun Sidek said the tournament in Manila will give Malaysians a glimpse of what to expect from these players in the future.
“It’s a young team, but at the same time, we must understand that these are the only players we have right now.
“They are for the future and this tournament would allow both players and coaches to gauge and assess where we stand among the rest.
“For the singles, the two most senior players are Lee Zii Jia and Cheam June Wei.
“Then we have Leong Jun Hao, a former Asian junior champion and world junior runner-up, who is slowly making a comeback.
“I also suggested Ng Tze Yong as his batch mates Lim Chong King and Aidil Sholeh
(Ali Sadikin) got their chances to shine at the Sea Games last year.
“These are the players we have right now, so we must test them out,” said Misbun.
Based on overall ranking points, the men’s team have virtually qualified for the Thomas Cup, which gives BAM all the more reason to test their options.
For the doubles, BAM named World No 8 Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzudin Rumsani and newly-crowned Thailand Masters champions Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi.
Yew Sin-Ee Yi were dropped from the national squad last year, but to the surprise of many, received a call up ahead of their more illustrious compatriots, V Shem-Wee Kiong.
“We will see how this squad works as a team.
“As coaches, we will also have an indication of what to expect in May and the kind of team we need to prepare,” added Misbun.
The draw for the Asian team meet will be conducted at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum tomorrow.